Thursday, 27 March 2008

This Writing Lark

Now that Travels in Xanadu-du is out, I have finally started the sequel. I know, I know, I should have started it months ago, but I was scared to. I still am. It's a journey into the unknown. The first novel happened almost by accident, but once I'd started it I had no choice but to get to the end. I've read a few books about how you're supposed to write a novel since then. Probably my favourite one is Stephen King's 'On Writing' - I suspect because there's only about two chapters that are directly related to writing and the rest is autobiography. The things that interested me were his comments on plotting. He says he's only ever done detailed plots for two or three of his novels, and they did not turn out to be his best work.

Well, hey, me and Stevie King: birds of a feather! When I started Travels in Xanadu-du, all I knew was how I wanted it to end. I had no idea of what would happen on the intervening pages. But it was OK, because my characters took over. They just started doing the kind of things they would do. All I had to do was type it. Towards the end of the book I did write a plot and made the buggers stick to it. But, at the risk of sounding like a poncy writery jerk, these characters were briefly alive, and I just wrote down what they said and did. And, yeah, I might as well say it: it was an almost mystical experience. I mean, you read about writers saying crap like that, and you think 'nah, that can't be true.' But actually, it bloody well is. I couldn't believe it when it started happening, but I'm so glad it did.

So now Abimbola and Chinwala and Kimoni and William de Roquefort and Trevor the Flying Rug have been released from the cupboard again. I can't wait to see what they'll get up to! On a J.K Rowling note: a (not very) major character will die in this book. Because I can. Bwuhahaha!

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